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Top 10 highest-paid players during the 1990-1991 NBA season might surprise you

NBA contracts in the early 90s are not comparable to today's deals. Perennial All-Stars made less money than today's benchwarmers.

1. Patrick Ewing $4,250,000

Patrick Ewing with Team USA

Patrick Ewing was the highest paid player in the NBA

Patrick Ewing was the highest-paid NBA player during the 1990-1991 season. Big Pat's total career earnings are $125 million, and his highest-paying season was 1997-97, when he made just over $20 million with the New York Knicks.

Important note: salary figures in this article are not adjusted for inflation — if taken into account, Pat's $4,250,000 million salary in 1990 would be $9,694,547 today according to U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistic. All salary figures are sourced from HoopsHype.

2. Hot Rod Williams $3,785,000

Hot Rod Williams

Hot Rod Williams was the second highest paid player in the league

In 1989, Hot Rod Williams averaged 16.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.04 blocked shots per game while mostly serving as the team's sixth man. The following season, he signed a 7-year, $26.5 million contract with the Cavaliers; at the time, this was one of the highest salaries paid to a sixth man in the NBA. Williams made just over $38 million during his NBA career.

3. Hakeem Olajuwon $3,175,000

Hakeem Olajuwon with the Rockets

Hakeem Olajuwon's highest salary was $16.7 million in 2001

Over the course of his 18-year career, Hakeem Olajuwon established himself as one of the greatest players in NBA history. Although he made only $3.175 million in 1990, Hakeem's total career earnings amount to $110,291,426 — 'The Dream' played long enough to make sure he pockets that generational wealth.

4. Charles Barkley $2,900,000 

Philadelphia 76ers forward Charles Barkley

Barkley will earn over 5 more times more money as a TV commentator than as a player

Charles Barkley was perhaps one of the greatest anomalies in the sport of basketball, listed at 6-6 but closer to 6-4, Sir Charles used to dominate opponents on the post. Barkley earned a total of $43,608,000 during his NBA career, 

5. Chris Mullin $2,850,000

Chris Mullin with Team USA

Chris Mullin made it to the top 5 highest paid players during the 1990-91 season

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In the five consecutive seasons from 1988 to 1993, Chris Mullin scored 25 or more points and recorded five rebounds per game, earning him one of the best NBA contracts at the time. Mullin earned a total of $40,424,600 during his career.

6. Isiah Thomas $2,720,000

Isiah Thomas with the Detroit Pistons

Isiah Thomas was the 6th highest paid player in the league in 1990

Isiah Thomas is one of the best point guards who ever graced the basketball court. Although having a historically successful NBA career, Thomas earned a measly $16,681,000 during his NBA career. No wonder these former players often have beef with current NBA stars who make that kind of money in half a season.

7. Danny Ferry $2,640,000

Danny Ferry with the Spurs

Danny Ferry had a better deal than Michael Jordan

Danny Ferry, who was drafted into the NBA in 1989 as the second overall pick by the then-Los Angeles Clippers, spent his first season in Italy playing with Il Messaggero, and then went on to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers until 2000. Ferry earned $44,243,000 during his NBA career.

8. Michael Jordan $2,500,000

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Today a billionaire, Michael Jordan used to make 'only' a couple of million a year

Believe it or not, Michael Jordan was the 8th highest player in the league back in 1990. Even after winning his first NBA title, MJ's salary didn't see a major bump in years. He managed however, to get credit where credit is due in the late 90s. Jordan earned a total of $94,022,500 from his NBA career.

8. Robert Parish $2,500,000

Robert Parish at the charity stripe

Robert Parish made more money in 1990-91 than Larry Bird

Robert Parish was the starting center of the Celtics dynasty, and made a total of $27,064,667 during his NBA career. During the 1990-91 season Parish made more money than his teammate Larry Legend.

10. Moses Malone $2,406,000

Moses Malone with a slash to the basket

Moses takes the 10th spot on this list

Last but not least, Moses Malone was the 10th highest paid player in the league during the 1990-1991 season. Moses made a total of $18,141,750 during his NBA career.

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